Valenzuela (/vɒlənzjuːˈɛlɑː/; Tagalog pronunciation: [ˌbɐlenzuˈwelɐ] ( )),[n 1] officially known as the City of Valenzuela (Filipino:Lungsod ng Valenzuela) (ISO: PH-00; PSGC: 137504000) or simplyValenzuela City, is the 119th largest city of the Philippines and one of the 16 cities plus a municipality that compose the region of Metro Manila, located about 14 km (7.9 miles) north of Manila. Valenzuela is categorized by virtue of Republic Act Nos. 7160 and 8526 as a highly urbanized, first-class city based on income classification and number of population.A chartered city located on the island of Luzon, it is bordered byMeycauayan (Bulacan) in the north, Quezon City and northern Caloocan to the east; by Obando (Bulacan) to the west; by Malabon, southern Caloocanand Tullahan River to the south. With a land mass of 47.02 km2 and a population of 575,356 in August 2010, Valenzuela is the 13th most populous city in the Philippines. Valenzuela's population is composed of 72% Tagalog people followed by 5% Bicolanos. Small percentage of foreign nationals reside in the city.
Valenzuela was named after Pío Valenzuela, a doctor and a member ofKatipunan. The town preceding Valenzuela that was originally called Polowas formed in 1621 due to religious separation movements from parishes of Meycauayan (Catanghalan). Polo has been occupied twice by foreign armies other than colonial powers Spain and United States: first during theSeven Years' War by the British and by the Japanese during the Second World War. In 1960, President Diosdado Macapagal ordered the creation of the municipality of Valenzuela carved from few territories of Polo and is independent from the provincial government of Bulacan. However in 1963, another law was issued ordering the reversal of the previous edict and reunifying the towns of Polo and Valenzuela under the single name ofValenzuela. In 1975, Valenzuela was named as an independent municipality from the government of Bulacan and incorporated under the administration of Metropolitan Manila Authority. On 14 February 1998, President Fidel V. Ramos signed Republic Act 8526, or the Valenzuela City Charter, which elevated the status of Valenzuela as a highly urbanized, chartered city.
Under the Local Government Code of 1991, Valenzuela has a similar government system to other chartered cities of the Philippines. It is governed by a city mayor and vice-mayor elected through popular vote. The city is divided into two congressional districts and each is represented by a congressional district representative at the Philippine Congress. The vice-mayor heads the 12-manned city council: each district elects six councilors. The current mayor is Rexlon T. Gatchalian.
There is no known tourist spot in the city except for the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, the Philippine apostolate to the Our Lady of Fatima ofPortugal. Valenzuela is traversed by two major roads in the country:MacArthur Highway and North Luzon Expressway (NLEx), with NLEx being connected to Circumferential Road 5 at segments 8.1 and 9. Major transportation modes include buses and jeepneys that founded terminals at the northern points of the city.
Owing to the cross migration of people across the country and its location as the northernmost point of Metro Manila, Valenzuela has developed into a well-mixed, multicultural metropolis. A former agricultural rural area, Valenzuela has grown into a major economic and industrial center of the Philippines when a large number of industries relocated to the central parts of the city.
"Himig Valenzuela", or "Valenzuela Hymn", is the official song of the city. It is sung during flag ceremonies of private and public schools as well as government institutions along with the Philippine national anthem, "Lupang Hinirang". The hymn was composed by Edwin Ortega which has the primary objective to promote unity, progress and patriotism among the city's citizens.
City ordinance number 18 mandated all citizens of Valenzuela to sing the hymn in all meetings and public occasions.
In English, Arkong Bato means "arch of stone" which was constructed and built by the Americans in 1910 to serve as borders between the provinces of Bulacan (where Valenzuela or Polo, as it was known before, belonged to) and Rizal. (where Malabonused to be part of) The arch is located along M.H. del Pilar Street, which was once the main gateway to North Luzon before the construction of MacArthur Highway and North Luzon Expressway. After Malabon seceded from Rizal and Valenzuela from Bulacan to become part of Metropolitan Manila in 1975, the arch now marked as the boundary between the two towns and their respective barangays, Barangay Santulan in Malabon and Barangay Arkong Bato in Valenzuela.
The Harry C. Egbert Memorial is located in Sitio Tangke Street in Malinta that serves as monument and memorial to Brigadier general Harry Clay Egbert, commanding officer of the 22nd Infantry Regiment of the United States who was mortally wounded here in 1899 during the Philippine-American War. Additionally, Egbert also served the US Armyduring American Civil War and Spanish-American War.
The Museo Valenzuela (English: Valenzuela Museum) was the house where Dr. Pío Valenzuela, in whose memory the old town of Polo was renamed, was born and saw the best years of his life. This same house was burned recently. Valenzuela's historical and cultural landmark, Museo Valenzuela features collections of artifacts depicting the city's past and continuing development. Special focus is given on the life and times of one of its illustrious sons, Dr. Valenzuela. The Museo serves as a repository of Valenzuela's rich heritage and a beacon of light to its people and guests. It is likewise a venue for historical, cultural, and artistic presentations as well as seminars and symposia on national and local issues.
The Libingan ng mga Hapon (English: Japanese Cemetery) was built in a 500-square meter lot of the Bureau of Telecommunications compound. The cemetery served thousands of fallen Japanese soldiers during the Philippines Campaign of 1944–45.
The National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima (Tagalog: Pambansang Dambana ng Birhen ng Fatima) is the center of the Fatima apostolate in the country was declared a tourist site in 1982 by the Department of Tourism and a pilgrimage shrine in 2009 by the Diocese of Malolos. It is near the Our Lady of Fatima University. The shrine houses the wooden statue of Our Lady of Fatima, one of the fifty images blessed byPope Paul VI in 1967 as part of golden celebration of the Marian apparition to three children in Fátima, Portugal. The images were later distributed to churches worldwide, where one of them is intended for the Philippines, however, unclaimed ending up in New Jersey. In 1984, Archbishop of Manila Jaime Cardinal Sin finally claimed the statue and was then transferred under the custody Bahay Maria Foundation, a Philippine-based Marian organization. During People Power Revolution in 1986, it was one of the iconic figures held by revolutionaries to oust the dictatorFerdinand Marcos. On 17 October 1999, the statue was then transferred to the shrine. The feast of Our Lady of Fatima is celebrated every 7 March and 13 May.
Dr. Pío Valenzuela, who became part of the triumvirate of revolutionary societyKatipunan and founder of the organ Ang Kalayaan, lived and died in 1956 at the oldResidence of Pío Valenzuela along Velilla Street in Barangay Pariancillo Villa, where a marker by the Valenzuela city government was placed in his honor. The present house was built after the war on the site of the old house which once served as venue for secret meetings and gatherings of the Katipunan. The old house was burned during World War II.
The San Diego de Alcala Church and its belfry was built in 1632 by the people of Polo. Residents were taken to forced labor to complete the church after the town gained its independence through Father Juan Taranco and Don Juan Monsod. The belfry and entrance arch, which are over four centuries old, are the only parts of the edifice that remain to this day. The main structure was destroyed by bombs during the Japanese occupation. Residents of barangays Polo and Poblacion celebrate the feast day of San Diego de Alcala on 12 November every year, together with the putong polo festival.
Located at Malanday, the Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish Church,was erected on 17 October 1994 to replace the Sto. Cristo Chapel, and solemnly declared on 24 June 2001. The Church belongs to the Vicariate of St. Didacus of Alcala – Valenzuela City, Roman Catholic Diocese of Malolos.
For commercial establishments, the city has SM Center Valenzuela which is part of the nation's largest mall chains SM Prime Holdings, Inc. which was constructed in a 2.5-hectare tract of land and opened in 2005. The mall is located alongMacArthur Highway in barangay Karuhatan that brought progress to the area in its years of existence. In 2011 it has fiveanchor stores: Ace Hardware, SM Appliance Center, SM Hypermarket, Surplus Shop and Watson's, and two junior anchors:Banco de Oro Universal Bank and National Book Store.
The Valenzuela City Convention Center is the center of culture of performing arts of Valenzuela. The facility caters various events such as plays, concerts, shows, exhibits and seminars and houses several interest groups among others that help promote the history and culture of the city and then Philippines-at large.
In 2007, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Republic Act number 9428 which sets February 14 every year as a special non-working holiday to commemorate cityhood of Valenzuela in 1998. On the same hand, November 12 each year is declared by the city government as the city's foundation day, looking back the establishment of then-Polo in 1623. There are misunderstandings before regarding the date of the actual foundation of the town, however, this date was decided by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to be the town's creation, since Spanish colonizers adopted a town's patron saint feast day as its date of creation.
Each barangay in Valenzuela have their own feast. Most of them launch celebrations during May and April to honor patron saints and bounty harvest. Every April 26, a santacruzan is performed along with Sta. Cruz Festival in barangay Isla. A santacruzan is a novena procession commemorating St. Helena's mythical finding of the cross. St. Helena was the mother ofConstantine the Great. According to legends, 300 years after the death of Christ, at the age of 75, she went to Calvary to conduct a search for the Cross. After some archeological diggings at the site of the Crucifixion, she unearthed three crosses. She tested each one by making a sick servant lie on all three. The cross where the servant recovered was identified as Christ's. St. Helena's feast day falls on 8 August but the anniversary of the finding of the Cross is on 3 May, in the Philippines, this celebration took the form of the Mexican Santa Cruz de Mayo.
May 12 is the date for Mano Po, San Roque Festival in Mabolo. In Valenzuela, San Roque is also known as the patron saint of the unmarried. There are countless tales of single girls who danced and prayed in the procession and who claim to have found their husband during the fiesta. The festival is almost similar to Obando Fertility Rites where romantic hopefuls dance to San Roque requesting to find their true love. Street dancing and procession along the city’s major thoroughfares in commemoration of the feast of San Roque, highlighting the customs and traditional celebration of the festival. This also commemorates townsfolk victory after the British departed the country following the end of Seven Years' War with Spain.
The Feast of San Diego de Alcala is commemorated every November 12 in Poblacion. This is a celebration of the feast of the oldest church in Valenzuela which includes annual boat racing, street dancing and different fabulous activities of the festival. As part of the San Diego de Alcala Feast Day, a unique food festival in the country is celebrated which features the famous putong Polo, the small but classy kakanin which was originally created in the town of Polo. This rice cake was a recipient of Manuel Quezon Presidential Award in 1931 which was cited having its exotic taste and amazingly long shelf-life. The celebration, known as Putong Polo Festival includes a parade featuring artistic creations from the rice cake which showcases creativity among the residents.